How was Jamaica’s 1st Rum Festival and have you Recovered?!


Suga thinks that the Jamaica Rum Festival was a success!

I went on the Saturday at about 3:30pm when the sun was out in full force. Imagine I was planning on going earlier. I was disappointed that the seminar times were posted online so close to the day, so failed to plan for them and missed out on available spots. I am sure it would have enhanced my experience even more, but perhaps something can be done next year that may not involve tastings and patrons can be involved.

I was early enough to get my Festival cup though! This was definitely a perk appreciated by patrons. You got back your entry money with that already.

The entrance décor was as real as it could get, taking you on a walk through the cane fields and the history of Jamaican rums via photos and artefacts. Neat cuts of Sugar cane were given away in small paper bags too.

I wish the mist being provided for the Sugar cane was provided for patrons at certain points throughout the festival too, or fans. The heat was hard to bear. Thankfully after a walk around the venue, picking up rum samples from the different sponsors and seeing what was on offer, Kande’s Delights had their delicious ice cream to cool you down. They gave you combo options to get a moist, salivating cupcake from Alex’s Creations too! Those cupcakes are one of a kind.

I am all for Brand Jamaica, but I think if local artisans are to be involved in the festival, they should have products more aligned with the theme of the festival. Perhaps like Street Food Saturdays who had Pepper sauces. Items that persons like to pair with rum or persons who take a liking to rum are likely to purchase.

The CB Food Village was a disappointment. Firstly, there was no card machine by the general line to get tickets. That should have been standard. I believe Rainforest Seafoods was probably the only option on the inside that you could buy from and use a card.

I understand that after drinking all that rum, the food did not have to be gourmet and got the idea behind mostly fried foods etc. to soak up the rum, but I still felt like options were limited and the quality of food put out was not that enticing. For instance, the quality of Pan Chicken in Manor Park is far better than that offered by the Pan Chicken winner that was present. I believe I made a good decision to get the Pork Fries from Tooksie Kay Catering. I got the Fried Chicken tacos from Chilitos too, but I believe Tooksie Kay was probably the best, if not, one of the best options there.

With all of that aside, how was the Rum and Entertainment?! After all, that is what we were there for. Monymusk was the only disappointment. Why was Monymusk giving people straight shots of whites?! Good Lord. Then they wanted you to pay for slushes with no rum in them. Wheel and come again.

Kudus to the other sponsors, Appleton Estate, Wray & Nephew, Charley’s J.B. Overproof Rum and Hampten Estate for coming up with creative 3oz sampler cocktails and mixes that were free. I enjoyed them. Big up Charley’s J.B. Overproof Rum from Trelawny who came with their Sprat and Bammy to soak up that strong cullo cullo a.k.a John Crow Batty!

Bottles and cues were for sale from the different sponsors as well.

The vibe did nice! Uncle Wray was there to mingle with patrons and so was Aunty Joy, Master Blender from Appleton Estate.


Gabrielle Burgess a.k.a Suga with Joy Spence, Master Blender of Appleton Estate.

Wray and Nephew did an excellent job with on the spot entertainment, such as mixology competitions. Hosts Sakina Deer and Dufton Shepherd really had the crowd engaged encouraging spontaneous outbursts of laughter.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the performances that I caught. Wayne Marshall, Dance Xpressionz and Aidonia certainly took us through their expansive catalogue of music and dance throughout the years.

Hope Pastures needs to take better care of those dusty grounds and I wish I got prior notice to consider carrying a chair, because once you are there you are likely to stay till the very end! Kudos to the organizers for creating such a memorable, local experience. Looking forward to the next one! #SugaEndorsed

Suga with husband, Randy Burgess at the Jamaica Rum Festival last Saturday, March 9, 2019 (Photo: Kirk Wignall)

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4 thoughts on “How was Jamaica’s 1st Rum Festival and have you Recovered?!”

  1. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was looking for more unusual rum stuff, but still overall the festival had a good vibez feeling.
    Great comprehensive review!

  2. Why is attack Monymusk tho! …. you should have add the shot of whites to the slushy then… I had the drink that Wray and was giving complimentary and that could have stayed it was awful…. I realized Jamaicans are so quick to tear down anything they think is a good competition it’s called a rum festival for Christ sake that a cocktail festival… Have you tried their Red Rum I think you should’ve …and their whites knock over Mr. Wray by far…. no more Appleton for me. I for one is more happy that I attended the festival to learn that they are just as good rums out there apart from these so called name brands one # monymuskrum

    1. Greetings Suzette. Nobody is attacking Monymusk. It is my opinion as well as a few other patrons. The brand of rum they were serving is not the rum you would drink straight. I am quite familiar with Monymusk and all the rums they had to offer at the festival, also why I think they could have done something different this time instead of giving me shots. They didn’t even offer shots with lime or something to buffer it. At least I didn’t see any. They did the same thing at Jamaica Expo last year. Charley’s J.B. Rum is of a similar strength and probably even had a similar cocktail to one of Wray & Nephew’s with their pineapple juice, but they served you with Sprat and Bammy. An excellent pairing. One shot of whites would do nothing for that sweet slushy. So I worked out a deal to mix it with the Gold rum. Other patrons may not have had the same luxury or thought of asking to do so. Monymusk wouldn’t have been at the festival if they didn’t have good quality rum. So, definitely not bringing them down, but I think they could have brought something more creative to the table. It didn’t have to be cocktails like everyone else, but I think jello shots or small slushy cones would have sufficed.

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